Queens teenagers who want glowing, bronze skin may soon have no choice but to burn at the beach.
The New York State Senate and Assembly recently passed legislation to outlaw the use of indoor tanning parlors for teens 16 and under, to help protect the kids from the dangers of skin cancer from ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitting devices.
The bills were delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 6, and became law on July 16 with his signature. The law takes effect in 30 days.
“Exposure to UV radiation can be extremely harmful, particularly for younger people, and this new law will help protect teenagers from the heightened risk of skin cancer that can come from using indoor tanning devices,” Cuomo said. “This legislation recognizes that many tanning salons are small businesses facing economic challenges, however, protecting our children must always be our first priority. I thank Senator Fuschillo and Assemblymember Weisenberg for their hard work on this legislation.”
“Research has shown that indoor UV tanning can significantly increase the chances of developing skin cancer and that the rays produced by indoor tanning machines are far more intense than those produced by the sun,” said Senator Charles Fuschillo, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “This legislation would help protect children from something that could cause them serious harm later in life.”
The bills, S2917 and S3083, strengthen the state’s current law, which prohibits tanning for kids under the age of 14 and allows teens between ages 14 through 17 to receive indoor treatment with parental consent.
The law would also require 17 year olds to show parental consent to tanning salons.
Indoor tanning before age 30 increases a person’s chances of getting cancer by 75 percent, according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
UV emitting tanning devices are classified by the IARC in the highest level of cancer risk, placing them in the same category as asbestos and cigarette smoke.
“Melanoma as you may already know is the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer,” said Dr. Carol Huang, a dermatologist at Queens Crossing Dermatology in Flushing. “If detected early, it can be effectively treated, but if discovered late, it can metastasize. A ban on teenage tanning would be beneficial to their health.”
Local officials are also behind the bill, praising its foresight.
“The law will attempt to reduce total lifetime exposure to concentrated UV light and cut associated risks,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, who sits on the Health Committee and supported the measure.
The original draft of the bill was intended to outlaw tanning for all teens under 18, but was altered to accommodate small business.
“Small salons thought if we went up to 18 it would be detrimental to business,” a representative of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said. “We view this change as a reasonable compromise.”
However, tanning companies aren’t buying lawmakers’ approach to sizzle their business. The Indoor Tanning Association is rallying support to shut the proposed changes down, as well as others like it around the nation.
“I don’t see why it’s so necessary, we are regulated already,” said Vanessa Staffa, director of operations in Queens for Beach Bum Tanning — a popular chain that owns six locations in the borough. “There are still going to be people going to the beach or online and purchasing home units, irresponsibly, because there will be nobody to regulate them.”
James Oliver, CEO of Beach Bum Tanning, added that indoor tanning should be a personal or at least parental decision and not taken away from the government.
But a local teen disagreed.
“It’s fair,” said Whitestone resident Taylor Lamacchia. “Sixteen-year-olds don’t know what’s best for them. If their friends are tanning they will also tan.
Lamacchia, 18, who has been tanning frequently since she was 16 to improve her appearance, added, “Parents want to be their children’s friends so they take them tanning at a young age to help them fit in, but they are truly putting their children at risk.”